Monday, September 11, 2006

A pattern of deception

The American Heritage dictionary provides these two definitions for the word "lie":
1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.

2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.
By those definitions, since April 2005, Cornell has repeatedly lied to the public regarding their Ivory-bill claims.

Very specifically, here are some examples of Cornell's deceptions, large and small:

1. Regarding the wingbeat frequency of the Luneau bird--

a) In Cornell's online Luneau video analysis, they state:
The bird in the Luneau video flies in a straight, direct “beeline” flight without changing its wingbeat frequency for 4.5 sec before disappearing among the trees.
b) In their response to Sibley's commentary, Fitz et al also state:
The Luneau woodpecker flies with a wingbeat frequency of 8.6 Hz without undulation for more than 4 s.
Both statements above are outright lies, since no one, including Cornell, can discern more than about one second of individual wingbeats in the Luneau video. More details are here.

2. The "photo montage" saga

In their response to Sibley's commentary, Cornell offered up a deceptive photo montage. A right-leaning tree in their original paper inexplicably becomes a left-leaning tree in their response; this completely nullifies the key "wrist-to-tailtip" measurement from their original paper. More details are here.

3. Cornell has repeatedly used deceptive "weasel wording" in an attempt to convince us that only a small fraction of the Big Woods has been searched.

An example is here (the bold font is mine):
The area defined as the Big Woods covers 550,000 acres and so far 13% of that (72,000 acres) has been systematically searched during the last two field seasons.
The key weasel word is, of course, "systematically"--evidently, this only applies to areas that have been transect-searched. With this weasel wording, a square mile that has been thoroughly covered by ghillie-suited Cornell searchers, private searchers, hunters, remote cameras, ARUs, pilots wearing helmet-cams, etc etc may still be officially "unsearched".

4. In December '05, Ken Rosenberg went on NPR and played some ARU kent calls, claiming that they "may very likely be an Ivory-billed Woodpecker". Rosenberg failed to mention that several searchers reported hearing and seeing blue jays making sounds very much like this in this area. More details here.

5. Ron Rohrbaugh publicly claimed that Cornell's alleged Ivory-bill sightings were "very top-quality sightings". That description is simply preposterous.

6. There are major inconsistencies in various Cornell retellings of Gene Sparling's alleged IBWO sighting. Details are here.

7. In Cornell's response to Sibley's paper, they stated (the bold font is mine):
After studying the evidence at length, the Bird Records Committee of the Arkansas Audubon Society voted unanimously to accept the documentation of ivory-billed woodpecker.
The vote was actually 4-1. Mike Mlodinow dissented.

8. There are major discrepancies in various Cornell stories about the timing of their original Science paper acceptance and an alleged leak on a "nation-wide listserv".

For example, in various places, Cornell told us that their original Science paper was accepted on April 25, April 26, and April 27, 2005. More details are here.


Anonymous said...

Members of the CLO and other TBs have also repeatedly implied that a population of IBWOs must certainly exist, and that this is the focus of their "recovery effort", although they have failed to demonstrate existence of even a single bird.

Don't forget the "unanimous" acceptance of the Arkansas record committee.

I don't know if this can be considered lying, but I continue to be annoyed at how the CLO and allies never refute any of the absurd theories proposed by TB's (Birdforum folks for example) while they go to great lengths to disparage skeptics (such as by questioning peer review of Jackson's Auk article).

And what about the colorized Tanner photos on various websites that might (intentionally?) be miscontrued as recent, genuine color images by unwary donors?

Anonymous said...

Don't forget that in the original Science paper the wing beats were reported as 9 beats per second for over four seconds. Add that to the list.

Remember also that the Science paper cited seven diagnostic features, five conclusive and two suggestive of IBWO.

Three of the diagnostic features it seems have never been taken seriously by anyone: white on the back (upside down bird), the six pixel bird on a distant tupelo, and wing span calculations. Wingspan calculations were one of the two diagnostics reported to be merely suggestive of IBWO. Wing beat rate was the other reported as merely suggestive.

The wing pattern in flight was another diagnostic. That claim now looks like a gross exaggeration or perhaps a gross misunderstanding: "All wing beats reveal extensive white patches on the posterior dorsal and ventral wing surfaces"

That's five out of seven. The remaining two (size, and wing pattern at rest) are both based solely on the folded wing theory of frame 33. Now even Bill Pulliam over at Soggy Bottom has rejected the folded wing theory.

So as far as I can tell, Pulliam is down to considering two out of the original seven diagnostics (both toned down greatly from the original claims) as possibly being suggestive of IBWO. None conclusive. (Wing pattern in flight and wing beat rate). Of course Mr. Pulliam is invited to speak for himself if I've gotten this wrong.

This leads to an awkward situation...By rejecting most, but not all of the seven, we are left with an alleged IBWO that not only revealed itself to an unmanned camera, but also displayed false leads as to it's true identity.

Very strange.

Bill Pulliam said...

Correct so far; I have not yet looked at the latter part of the useful one-second portion of the video. That's the bit where the bird curves left and up. It is there that Cornell claimed the dorsal features. I can't say yet whether I'll decide they have a point or missed the mark on this. I'll get back to this project soon, I hope. More pressing matters right now (the fall migrants have arrived...)

For what it's worth, I actually recanted on the folded-wing interpretation of frame 33 many months ago, while participating in a discussion on this very blog.

Anonymous said...

It could be all lyin' stinkin' deception. Or it all could be a terrible case of self-deception.

I suspect the latter which would, of course, lower the barrier for the former to occur. Which would then return us to the idea that we are just being deceived.

But then, who is deceived? It's not us. Not the Skeptics. The deception has not worked here.

So who are they deceiving? Only themselves. So Q.E.D., they are deceiving themselves. Proving that it is self-deception.

Is that clear?

Anonymous said...

The carpinterio was alerted to Soggy Bottom by the above post, and spent some time in the mind of the soggy bottom man himself ... nice work, Bill.

Soggy Bill has got the sketches in line with the carpinterio's read, and it seems totally in line with the Nelsonian analysis. Importantly there seems to be no way that Fitzcrow's 33.3 nonsense stands the lightest scrutiny - carpinterio, nelson, sibley and the shaggy, soggy bill, have all panned it.

My read is that Soggy wants to find something that makes this merit a least some "doubt" ... but the more he looks the less he sees anything that would merit getting a $25 Ivory Bill haircut down in Brinkley.

I've been asking this question since the beginning, I'll ask it again, how did this make it though peer review - or did, as I've concluded, Science simply comp Fitz the peer review on GP and standing.

Tom, forget the whole "lies" part and focus on the issue of "science" ... sure Fitz et all are "spinning" the real victim here is "Science".

Anonymous said...

El CR wrote:

"Tom, forget the whole "lies" part and focus on the issue of "science" ... sure Fitz et all are "spinning" the real victim here is "Science".

Exactly. And the breakdown in the science starts with the raw data- the Luneau video, the sight records, the audio evidence. All of the raw data has to be "forced" to fit IBWO. Throw in secrecy, fame, glory, and mega bucks and you have Red Flags galore.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that all of the other masses of data that CLO et al. have generated is either negative or "inconclusive."

Gadfly said...

I'm totally with you; I believe Cornell has ego and emotion invested on this and can't let go.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

"Not to mention that all of the other masses of data that CLO et al. have generated is either negative or 'inconclusive'."

Make that "ARE either negative or....."